Microsoft has built a holographic display for your glasses

Microsoft may be hard at work making HoloLens and other AR/VR headsets a reality for Windows, but none of these devices really deal with holograms as we know them. Thankfully, Microsoft seems to finally be making strides in that department: its team of researchers have finally developed a true, near-eye holographic image – and it fits in a normal pair of glasses.

A true hologram requires a laser-generated 3D image floating in front of your vision to work; HoloLens uses two 2D images projected onto flat glass to create the illusion of a 3D object. In Microsoft’s latest breakthrough, however, the image is generated onto the lens itself to create a true holographic image in one eye.

The frames and lenses hold the mirrors and liquid crystal on silicon needed to create the holographic effect, while the larger electronics for projecting an image sit as extras around the glasses. If you’re worried it will be too tiny a display to generate useful images, don’t be: Microsoft has sidestepped this with snazzy software that can correct the holographic projector, making it easy to see images down to the pixel.

Microsoft’s research team also uses GPU-boosted algorithms to create highly detailed holograms in real-time – even utilising eye-tracked rendering to ensure the most visual detail is delivered to the areas of the image you are looking at most. Microsoft’s method of rendering and tracking also means those with stigmatisms or eyesight issues wouldn’t need to wear anything special to make use of the platform, and it can even be used with corrective lenses.

Unfortunately, as cool as it is, this doesn’t represent what Microsoft is actually up to in R&D terms – it’s simply a curio in the company, for now. The technology is certainly impressive, but there’s still quite a way to go until it becomes truly viable. Currently, the glasses are only capable of generating a monoscopic image, with stereoscopic images presenting another challenge for the team.

Still, the proof-of-concept project does show that a future of non-bulky AR headsets is within reach. HoloLens may untether you from a workstation or specific rooms, but the tech is just that little bit too bulky to be useful on a day-to-day level. Microsoft’s new holographic glasses, however, could change everything.

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